Brazil secure top spot in Group G and a round of 16 meeting with South Korea despite a shock 1-0 defeat to Cameroon at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
The South Americans will be hoping to return to the same stadium in a few weeks when it hosts the World Cup Final, but they will be a much changed team.
It was a heavily-rotated Brazilian lineup selected by manager Tite and that showed in a slightly disjointed performance.
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AN HOUR AGO
Despite the rotation, and having already secured progress to the knockout rounds, the Brazilians dominated the opening period both in terms of possession – they had over 60% – and chances – they had 10 shots to Cameroon’s one.
That one chance was the best of the match though, when Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo headed into the ground with the goal begging right before half time.
The second half was a mirror image of the first with Brazil dominating, but this time around Cameroon took their one chance.
Deep in stoppage time, Vincent Aboubakar ghosted between Brazilian defenders to head home a shock winner.
Cameroon needed both to beat Brazil and for Switzerland to fail to beat Serbia. With the Swiss winning, the Indomitable Lions were playing only for pride.
Their first World Cup victory in 20 years should give them that, at least.
Brazil advance to the next round but their aura of invincibility has been somewhat deflated by their defeat which rounds out the group stage of Qatar 2022.
Talking point – Who won their place?
With Brazil rotating, their squad players got the chance to impress. But who took the opportunity? Certainly Gabriel Martinelli did all that he could have done to impress his manager, but club teammate Gabriel Jesus only reinforced the notion that he struggles to impose himself in the famous yellow shirt of his country.
None of Fred, Fabinho, Ederson or Dani Alves showed particular qualities, while Alex Telles appeared to suffer an injury which would rule him out of contention. Manchester United’s Antony was bright, though.
Player of the Match – Gabriel Martinelli
Although he ended up on the losing side, Martinelli gave a timely reminder of his qualities. Admittedly he started poorly, misplacing several early passes, but he spent most of the match roasting Standard Liege full-back Collins Fai.
Antony actually saw more of the ball down the right, but he was well marshalled while Martinelli ran consistently free.
Brazil: Ederson 5; Dani Alves 5, Militao 7, Bremer 6, Alex Telles 5; Fabinho 6, Fred 5, Rodrygo 6; Antony 7, Gabriel Jesús 5, Martinelli 7. Subs: Everton 4, Guimaraes 6, Pedro 5, Raphinha 6, Marquinhos 6
Cameroon: Epassy 6; Fai 4, Tolo 7, Wooh 6, Ebosse 6; Ngamaleu 6, Anguissa 7, Kunde 7; Aboubakar 7, Choupo-Moting 6, Mbeumo 6.Subs: Ntcham 6, Mbekeli 6, Toko Ekambi 5
2′ HUGE EARLY CHANCE
Antony skips down the right flank and plays in Rodrygo but no one can get a clean touch on his layoff in the box and the chance goes begging.
14′ MARTINELLI DENIED
A goal bound header from the Arsenal forward is pushed over the bar by Devis Epassy at the cost of a corner.
20′ GOOD SAVE EDERSON
Cameroon’s attack goes on, and Choupo-Moting receives the ball again down the left. The Bayern striker swings in a cross, but Ederson lands a punch to clear his box.
26′ BRILLIANT CAMEROON CLEARANCE
This time Martinelli is looking to take advantage of a team mate’s good work but the cross towards the unmarked Arsenal man is cut out at the last moment.
49′ ABOUBAKAR SHOOTS WIDE
Vincent Aboubakar finds space to the right of the goal and lets fly, but his shot curls just past Ederson’s left post.
That one was close.
57′ MARTINELLI TESTS EPASSY
Brazil counter at speed with Martinelli racing down the flank and unleashing a shot that almost has the beating of the Cameroon keeper, but it’s saved at the cost of a corner.
84′ RAPHINHA TEES UP GUIMARAES
Lovely dancing run down the right from Raphinha and only Wooh’s despairing lunge denies Guimaraes the tap in.
90′ GOAL CAMEROON
The Indomitable Lions take the lead in stoppage time as Vincent Aboubakar ghosts in between Brazil’s defenders to head in what must be a late winner.
Aboubakar gets a second yellow for his celebration and Cameroon are down to ten.
Brazil: 2.5 – The South Americans produced a very healthy 2.5 expected goals with their largely solid play against Cameroon. Had they selected a more effective central striker, they would likely have won this match comfortably. This suggests the defeat is more of a blip than a sign of a terminally flawed team.
Cameroon: 20 – That’s how many years Cameroon have had to wait between wins at a World Cup. Witnessing the celebrations triggered by Aboubakar’s goal, it seems they were quite pleased to end that run.
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